Today I’d like to tackle the topic of teenagers and relationships in the context of abuse. You may be a teenager now or you may be a parent of a teenager, however, regardless of how good or bad the relationship between parents and children there is always an area of privacy and secrecy. Often, even if the relationship with parents is good, teenagers may not feel comfortable sharing with parents certain information or doing it long after the abuse took place. Thus, knowing about the reality and facts may be helpful in recognising and acting when necessary to help your child if you are a parent, help your friend if you are a teenager, or seek help if you are a victim of abuse.
Research and Facts
Accordingly, to previous literature people as young as 13 years old are engaging in intimate relationships, this includes heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Teenagers of age 13-16 engage are in casual and serious relationships. Barter et al. (2009) researched 1,185 participants to find out more about the dynamic of relationships in teenagers. His research found that 88 % of the sample had been engaged in intimate relationships, however, there was no association between gender and the probability of engaging in a relationship (89 % girls versus 86% boys).
Moreover, the researcher showed a different attitude towards long-term relationships between boys and girls. Boys were more focused on short-term relationships while girls were interested in serious relationships. Gender differences had been also found regarding partners' age. Boys had the same age or slightly younger partners while girls had older or "much older" partners. For girls, an older partner was a source of emotional support, especially for those girls that experienced violence in their families. Family violence is a predictor of experiencing violence in intimate relationships. Furthermore, 4% out of the 1,185 participants had been in homosexual relationships and it was found that teenagers with a same-sex partner were more likely to have experienced family violence (Barter et al., 2009).
Additionally, it was found that violence, abuse, and control in teenagers' relationships were quite common. Barter et al. found that 7% of the sample, an equal number of boys and girls, stated that their friends used aggression towards their partners.
Still, more girls (25%) than boys (18%) experienced violence in their relationships. This shows the gender differences. Although, violence was also administered by girls against boys, however, in most cases it was self-defence. Furthermore, girls (72%) experienced more emotional abuse and control than boys (51%) and boys used violence mainly to control their girlfriends' behaviour. An interesting fact is that teenagers in homosexual relationships reported more violence than those in heterosexual relationships. Homosexual respondents reported more emotional abuse and control from their partners than their heterosexual counterparts. Half of the homosexual and bisexual respondents reported some form of violence administered by a partner.
Moreover, Barter et al. (2009) state that violence can be physical, sexual, and emotional. Emotional abuse is defined as intentionally hurting and controlling partners (emotionally or psychologically). Control consists of manipulation such as controlling and restricting movements, decisions and autonomy, isolation from support, humiliating or disrespectful behaviour, intimidation, threatening using violence, verbal abuse, exploitation, domination, and surveillance by use of technology. Personally, I know stories of girls who were abused as young as 10 or 11 years old. The problem was dealt with when parents checked their children's phones. Thus, parents should really be vigilant and the problem of abuse in teenagers should be spoken out loud. Thus those who are victims could realise that they experience abuse as well as they are entitled to help.
The problem is that young people may confuse possessiveness with care. Still, some teenagers are aware of the implication of this type of behaviour. It was also found that girls use more emotional abuse and surveillance than boys. However, girls also are more aware of the fact that they experience emotional abuse than boys. Still, it has a more serious impact on girls' well-being than boys. Girls often blamed themselves. I’d like to point out that breaking a relationship often triggers more violence from male partners.
Thus, we should be aware that the problem exists and pay attention, observe, and act if necessary to help when we see signs of abuse amongst our friends or children. Do not be afraid to ask for helps when you need it.
Where you can get help: